Hochul Signs Legislature Aimed at Helping Felons Find Employment


Governor Kathy Hochul signed a package of legislation aimed at giving formerly incarcerated New Yorkers the chance to seek employment and other opportunities to reenter society and reduce the risk of recidivism.

“This package of legislation takes positive steps forward to make sure New York’s criminal justice system treats everyone fairly while enhancing the safety of our neighborhoods,” Hochul said in a statement. “It’s critical that we foster a safe state while ensuring formerly incarcerated New Yorkers have the opportunity for a second chance.”

The laws would include allowing re-entry workers to perform overtime or night shifts without risking violating parole. For those who need to travel or work during curfew, it would not be considered a violation of parole, thanks to law S.2803/A.5707.

It will not be considered a violation of parole for re-entry workers to engage in bona fide work and travel during curfew times.

Another law related to labor rights, S.2801-A/A.5705-A would allow those on supervised release to protest working conditions.

For those who have been discharged early from supervision for good behavior, they will have access to a certificate that can be  shown to prospective employers and landlords. The certificate can be shown to local boards of elections as proof that the right to vote has been restored. These official confirmations of good conduct and that they have committed no crimes since leaving are intended to make it easier for former felons to find employment and housing. Prior to S.2630/A.5549, it took three to five years for individuals to receive his or her certificates.

A fourth law, S.294-A/A.2573-A, would allow former convicts to become the executor of a family estate. Previously, anyone convicted of a felony would be barred from serving as an executor of a family estate, even if it was their parents or spouse. The state will allow the courts to restrict access on an individual basis, such as in instances when the felony the person served time for involved fraud or embezzlement.

“New Yorkers should be able to select their own fiduciary for their estate regardless of past discretions,” said Assemblymember Charles D. Fall , who sponsored the legislation, in a statement. “Past criminal history should not play a part in grieving family’s decisions to finalize their estates.”